Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
Olesya Kuprina/Shutterstock

The harsh heat of the summer sun is simply not good for us – for anyone, in fact, including our dogs. And while we can simply lather on the sunscreen, don our sun hats and sunglasses, and stay safe from harmful UV rays, our dogs are much more limited in that regard. So what can we do to help them? Do they need the same protection from the sun as we do? 

Even though our pets have the fur we lack, they still need to be sheltered from ultraviolet sun rays, which includes the use of specially formulated sunscreen for dogs – but that’s not all there is to it. Read on to learn more about sunscreen for dogs and other ways you can keep your pet safe from UV rays in the summer.

Do Dogs Need Sunscreen?

While dogs have hairy coats that provide some protection against the sun's rays, they can still be vulnerable to sunburn and other sun-related issues, especially in areas with thin or light-colored fur, exposed skin, or areas with naturally less hair coverage such as the nose, ears, belly, and groin. In other words, yes, dogs can benefit from sunscreen in certain situations and cases.  

  • Sensitivity to sunlight: 

Dogs with lighter or thinner fur, such as those with white or light-colored coats, are more susceptible to sunburn. Breeds with short or sparse hair, like Boxers or Bulldogs, may also be at higher risk.

  • Exposed skin: 

Dogs with areas of exposed skin, such as those with thinning hair due to age, certain medical conditions, or recent grooming, may require sunscreen to protect those areas from the sun's harmful rays. Some breeds, such as the Mexican Hairless Dog, are especially vulnerable and need the most protection.

  • Nose and ears: 

Another thing to remember is that dogs with pink or lightly pigmented noses and ears are particularly prone to sunburn. Applying sunscreen to these areas can help prevent sunburn and potential skin damage.

  • Outdoor activities: 

If your dog spends a significant amount of time outdoors, especially during peak sun hours (typically between 10 am and 4 pm), sunscreen can provide an extra layer of protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A lot can depend on the place where you live. Hot and scorching Arizona? You’re probably going to need a lot of sunscreen! 

What Type of Sunscreen Is Safe for Dogs?

Now, you can’t just use any old sunscreen you find laying around. When selecting a sunscreen for your dog, it's essential to choose one specifically formulated for canine use. Human sunscreen products often contain ingredients that can be toxic to dogs if ingested or even applied topically, so it's crucial to avoid using them. Instead, look for a sunscreen that is fragrance-free, non-toxic, and designed for dogs.  This sunscreen spray for dogs ticks all of these boxes, plus it’s really easy to use and apply, so you can be ready to go out for a walk in under a minute.

Of course, you should always consult with your veterinarian before applying any sunscreen to ensure it is safe for your pet and to get specific recommendations based on your dog's needs. Whenever in doubt, just get in touch with your vet – they can always let you know what’s the best solution for your pet.

In the end, remember that sunscreen should not be the sole method of sun protection for your dog. Providing shade, limiting sun exposure during peak hours, and using protective clothing, such as doggy shirts or hats, can also help protect your pet from the sun's harmful effects. To keep the shade away from the eyes and the snout, which are the most vulnerable parts of a dog’s body, you can opt for sun-blocking accessories, such as  this hat designed for dogs. Not only will it keep the sunlight at bay but your pooch will look super cute in it, too. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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